Skeptic Friends Network

Username:
Password:
Save Password
Forgot your Password?
Home | Forums | Active Topics | Active Polls | Register | FAQ | Contact Us  
  Connect: Chat | SFN Messenger | Buddy List | Members
Personalize: Profile | My Page | Forum Bookmarks  
 All Forums
 Our Skeptic Forums
 General Skepticism
 Criminal Profilers-Good or Bad for Investigations?
 New Topic  Reply to Topic
 Printer Friendly Bookmark this Topic BookMark Topic
Author Previous Topic Topic Next Topic  

marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 11/11/2007 :  07:01:39  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
This week NPR's Talk of the Nation interviewed two experts on with opposing viewpoints on whether or not police considering the advice of criminal profilers in investigations did more harm or good.

The skeptical guest - arguing against use of criminal profiling - is Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point and Blink. He's recently written a book called Dangerous Minds: Criminal Profiling Made Easy.

The second guest is a former FBI agent and criminal profiler, John Douglas and has written a couple of books on the subject: Mindhunter and Inside the mind of BTK.

You can listen to the whole show here: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16117564 and also read an excerpt from Inside the mind of BTK. The show is about half an hour long and I would think intriguing to any skeptic, as these two men spar over how scientific and accurate criminal profiling can be.

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com


Edited by - marfknox on 11/11/2007 07:02:05

JohnOAS
SFN Regular

Australia
800 Posts

Posted - 11/11/2007 :  18:35:01   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit JohnOAS's Homepage Send JohnOAS a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Sounds good, marf, but damn NPR and their streaming only policy. I think I'll have to record the stream and rip it myself for listening to in the car.

I'll let folks know if/when I have an mp3 version.



John's just this guy, you know.
Go to Top of Page

tw101356
Skeptic Friend

USA
332 Posts

Posted - 11/11/2007 :  19:23:04   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send tw101356 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I just read this earlier today, a New Yorker article by Malcolm Gladwell. His opinion can be boiled down to "A profiler is little more than a psychic, and about as accurate". Based on the info in the article, I would agree with him.



- TW
Edited by - tw101356 on 11/11/2007 19:23:34
Go to Top of Page

Ghost_Skeptic
SFN Regular

Canada
510 Posts

Posted - 11/11/2007 :  22:58:00   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Ghost_Skeptic a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I heard an interview with wrongly convicted Guy Paul Morin who was eventually exhonorated of the murder of his 9 year old nest door neighbor by DNA evidence. He blamed his conviction in part on a psychological profiling. He referred to the profilers as "amature scientists" in comparison to the "professional scientists" who did the DNA testing. In this case the profile appeared to be created to target him spefically.

Based on the New Yorker article it seems that profiling is as phony as cold reading psychics. It is classic pseudo science with cherry picked successes, post hoc alterations of predictions and failing totally in controlled experiments. The only part they consistently get right is "the killer was male" Duh. Unfortunately, profiling has been popularized in the media and these pseudoscientists will continue to muddy the waters of investigations.

"You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. / You can send a kid to college but you can't make him think." - B.B. King

History is made by stupid people - The Arrogant Worms

"The greater the ignorance the greater the dogmatism." - William Osler

"Religion is the natural home of the psychopath" - Pat Condell

"The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter" - Thomas Jefferson
Go to Top of Page

Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 11/12/2007 :  07:07:20   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by JohnOAS

Sounds good, marf, but damn NPR and their streaming only policy. I think I'll have to record the stream and rip it myself for listening to in the car.

I'll let folks know if/when I have an mp3 version.


Do a search for NPR Podcast. Beyond that, I can't tell you how I found it. It may be an abbreviated version, I'm not sure.

I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



Go to Top of Page

Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 11/12/2007 :  14:27:00   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
the podcast

I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



Go to Top of Page

dv82matt
SFN Regular

760 Posts

Posted - 11/12/2007 :  20:49:14   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send dv82matt a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Gorgo

the podcast
Thanks Gorgo that link works for me.

John Douglas seemed oddly defensive to me so perhaps he makes bolder claims in his books than he cared to make here. Having said that, some of Gladwell's points (like the comparison to astrology, and the "Why isn't it a science?" question), did seem like cheap shots to me.

I think that the type of profiling popularised in the media is bullshit but I'm not willing to completely write off all profiling just based on that.
Go to Top of Page

Ghost_Skeptic
SFN Regular

Canada
510 Posts

Posted - 11/13/2007 :  00:00:05   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Ghost_Skeptic a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Something I just remembered regarding the Beltway sniper - someone had seen him behaving suspicously inside his car and reported it the police, but the lead was not followed up on because they were sure the sniper was a white guy at the time.

I see profiling leading to this sort of tunnel vision. "Tunnel vision" is often cited as a major factor in wrongful conviction cases.


"You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. / You can send a kid to college but you can't make him think." - B.B. King

History is made by stupid people - The Arrogant Worms

"The greater the ignorance the greater the dogmatism." - William Osler

"Religion is the natural home of the psychopath" - Pat Condell

"The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter" - Thomas Jefferson
Go to Top of Page

JohnOAS
SFN Regular

Australia
800 Posts

Posted - 11/13/2007 :  21:06:30   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit JohnOAS's Homepage Send JohnOAS a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by dv82matt

Originally posted by Gorgo

the podcast
Thanks Gorgo that link works for me.

Me too. Downloading now, will listen shortly. Thanks Gorgo.

Originally posted by dv82matt
I think that the type of profiling popularised in the media is bullshit but I'm not willing to completely write off all profiling just based on that.

I agree. It's a technique that could probably be used effectively under certain circumstances, but not applied to all. Of course, knowing when you've got one of those circumstances may not be possible.

I've yet to listen to the podcast.

John's just this guy, you know.
Edited by - JohnOAS on 11/13/2007 21:07:05
Go to Top of Page

Valiant Dancer
Forum Goalie

USA
4826 Posts

Posted - 11/13/2007 :  21:30:04   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Valiant Dancer's Homepage Send Valiant Dancer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Ghost_Skeptic

Something I just remembered regarding the Beltway sniper - someone had seen him behaving suspicously inside his car and reported it the police, but the lead was not followed up on because they were sure the sniper was a white guy at the time.

I see profiling leading to this sort of tunnel vision. "Tunnel vision" is often cited as a major factor in wrongful conviction cases.




Profilers tend to look at types of crimes and describe the person it is most likely to be based on past experience. Again, most likely, not an absolute. That it allows police to be lazy in police work is bad. (inspiring tunnel vision)

Doesn't make profilers perfect. Just makes em' studiers of trends.

Historically, people taking potshots at other people from long range are white males. The Beltway sniper was an abberation to that pattern. In fact, if you examine serial killers (rate of one or two murders at a time) that are pursued by the law (heads of governments, don't count) most are white males.


Cthulhu/Asmodeus when you're tired of voting for the lesser of two evils

Brother Cutlass of Reasoned Discussion
Go to Top of Page

froydnslp
New Member

22 Posts

Posted - 11/14/2007 :  00:55:13   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send froydnslp a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Profilers don't claim to be correct or fancy pants as psychics. They are just looking at trends from other cases and working their best at trying to catch perpetrators. They also look at trends in behavior (as do most of psychs) to try to determine causation and predictions in future behavior.

Because of this kind of work there are studies being done to look at genetics and environment. Bleiberg and others believe that trauma in the beginning years of a child could change the brain to predispose that child to be antisocial. Depending upon the way that child is raised (loving parents or abusive parents) that child could turn out to be a risk taking fire fighter or a risk taking serial killer.

Just because some of the cases that the Blink guy stated didn't work out doesn't mean that we should turn a blind eye towards Profiling...
Go to Top of Page

marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 11/14/2007 :  04:16:01   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
To me, we need mainly to rigorously study and look at the success/failure rates of professional criminal profiling. If the numbers put out by Gladwell (who pointed out that the success rate was no better than that of a stopped clock for telling time) are accurate, then I'd argue that he's probably right that criminal profiling is more likely to harm than help investigations. Has the success rate improved a great deal from 20 years ago or has it remained the same? If it has improved, there could be an argument that the only reason the success rate is so low is because they are working on getting better, and in the future it will be a more effective tool. It was interesting to listen to their debate, but that wasn't enough info for me to form a strong opinion either way.

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com

Go to Top of Page
  Previous Topic Topic Next Topic  
 New Topic  Reply to Topic
 Printer Friendly Bookmark this Topic BookMark Topic
Jump To:

The mission of the Skeptic Friends Network is to promote skepticism, critical thinking, science and logic as the best methods for evaluating all claims of fact, and we invite active participation by our members to create a skeptical community with a wide variety of viewpoints and expertise.


Home | Skeptic Forums | Skeptic Summary | The Kil Report | Creation/Evolution | Rationally Speaking | Skeptillaneous | About Skepticism | Fan Mail | Claims List | Calendar & Events | Skeptic Links | Book Reviews | Gift Shop | SFN on Facebook | Staff | Contact Us

Skeptic Friends Network
© 2008 Skeptic Friends Network Go To Top Of Page
This page was generated in 0.17 seconds.
Powered by @tomic Studio
Snitz Forums 2000